iSAS is coming! (Hey, remember when Apple was dead?)

How I look to my 14-year-old daughter
How I look to my 14-year-old daughter


As The World’s Most Spoiled 14-year-old reminds me often,

I am old.

I remember SAS version 5.

I also remember SAS 6.12 which is noted for being the last version of SAS to run on the Mac.

Several years ago, I was at a SAS conference where the soon-to-be released version 9 was under discussion. I asked an executive from SAS why they no longer had a Mac version and whether that was a consideration. He shook his head and said,


“You know, people who have Macs are very passionate about their computers, however, that passion doesn’t necessarily translate into profits. We had a Mac version of SAS at one time. I think we sold about six copies.”

I guess I was one of the six.

I’m also old enough to remember when Michael Dell said he would shut Apple down and give the money back to the shareholders.

Even though Apple has made a revival worthy of Lazarus, SAS has been a hold out. I have boot camp on both my laptop and desktop for the SOLE purpose of running SAS. There is not a single other thing I need to do that doesn’t run native on my Mac.

So … you can imagine my excitement when I read about a new release of SAS On-Demand for Academics that could run completely on a web-browser with no local footprint.

This means, of course, that it would be feasible to run SAS on a Mac or Linux desktop.

On twitter, @JaDP (also know as Josep di Paolantonio , if that is his real name) asked why I would be so excited, because SAS on the Mac, or iSAS – as I am calling it until I get a call from either Apple or Sesame Street telling me that they have copyrighted the letter “i”  – appears to be a long way off.

Two reasons.

One, at my age, a long way off is relative. When I was in junior high and gave a damn if anyone thought my bell bottoms were cool or not is a long way off. The end of the summer, by comparison, is just a hop, skip and a wink.

Two, SAS has gone from writing off supporting the Mac as a possibility to penciling it into their plans, maybe even pushing down hard enough with the pencil that it looks like pen.

That decision may be good news for Apple. I think it is rather more good news for SAS. While they are still supporting their core business of ginormous companies paying huge fees, a cloud-based version down the line may make SAS accessible to a lot more students at universities. The requirement to have Windows installed has been a barrier to SAS On-Demand for a lot of students, so this is a step in the right direction.

In general, SAS taking new directions like this suggest that they may be going more in the direction of Apple (let’s make cool stuff!) and less the direction of Oracle (we’re boring but you need us).

So, why am I excited? Because I like cool stuff!

The Spoiled One said I was old. No one said I was mature.

Similar Posts


  1. For what it’s worth, I’ve been running off a MacBook for about a year now and there’s quite a few ways to use SAS on a Mac today. You’re probably already aware of them, but someone else might find something useful here. 🙂

    If you’re running off a stand-alone Mac, the most direct way is via Windows emulation through VMWare or Parallels – I prefer Parallels, but each to their own. It appears as a native app within OS X, but it’s actually emulating a Windows subsystem in the background. The upside is no rebooting but the downside is lower performance. That’s surprisingly not such a big deal on a MacBook Air with a solid state drive or a current MacBook Pro.

    The faster approach is via Bootcamp. The biggest downside is rebooting but on the positive, it’s effectively a Windows machine. So, there’s no performance sacrifice.

    If you’re after visualisation and exploratory data analysis capabilities as well as the ability to submit SAS code to a server, JMP offers a native Mac client. It’ll hook up to a SAS server if you want, giving you the ability to execute SAS code via a native client on OS X. Not a bad choice in many corporate environments if you’re a programmer at heart and want to take advantage of high-performance analytics environments.

    If you’re a fan of Enterprise Guide, using it via Parallels or VMWare in a client / server environment is also great – because all the processing happens server-side, you actually sacrifice very little performance. Most of the time, I can’t even tell I’m running it via emulation; it’s only when Flash crashes and consumes all my cores that I notice things slowing down!

    Many of our solutions are also moving towards leveraging web-based interfaces, reducing client-specific requirements.

    Speaking more broadly, we’re also doing a lot on the mobility front around iOS – SAS Visual Analytics has been designed to publish content to iOS and to the web:


    There’s also the JMP Graph Builder, available now for free in the App store:


    Besides, we’ve always made cool stuff – aren’t stats cool? 🙂

  2. I didn’t know about the JMP Graph Builder .

    I’m spending all day tomorrow playing with jquery and javascript so I’m not sure I’m the best judge of cool.

    I used to run SAS on a virtual machine but SAS On-demand didn’t run on it, and I use that for my class, so I had to switch to boot camp

  3. There are a lot more developers and data geeks using Macs now, compared to the SAS 6 era. For many of us, Mac desktops complement Linux server environments.

    Additionally, whatever competition comes from R and its associated tools (RStudio) run natively on Macs.

    Some logic would indicate a Mac native, or better a cross-platform version of SAS would gain some market share, but perhaps also stem competitor conversions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *